We are huge fans of Ponyo, so I recently added another film by Hayao Miyazaki to our Netflix queue. My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ Tonari no Totoro) arrived in the mailbox yesterday and we're already on our second viewing.
Originally released in 1988 and re-released by Disney in 2006, this enchanting film follows the adventures of two plucky sisters, Mei and Satsuki, who move to a new house in the countryside with their father. As they explore their new surroundings they encounter magical, protective forest spirits that can only be seen by children. Their adventures together unfold as the girls deal with the fact that their mother is absent, recovering from an unstated illness in a nearby hospital.
The combination of beautiful animation with extraordinary storytelling makes this film feel truly special. Miyazaki has a brilliant way of capturing the mundane patterns of ordinary everyday life as experienced by children and fusing that with a kind of mystical spirituality of the imagination. Every frame is poetry, whether depicting two girls trudging through the rain or flying through the clouds inside an incredible cat bus. I can't wait to check out another Miyazaki movie!